Special Boston Globe Food Issue Features Commentary from Our Baylen Linnekin

Boston GlobeThis Sunday's Boston Globe dedicated an entire section to discussing a variety of issues pertaining to food. We're excited to have contributed to the section.


Our Baylen Linnekin wrote a piece on food regulations that touches on ways that food rules often have great costs--both in terms of dollars and unintended consequences.


Here's a snippet:


FOOD REGULATION IS a necessary function of government. Rules mandating food safety and preventing fraud in food sales and marketing exist — as they should — at all levels of government. Today, however, there are simply too many.


In recent years, the expense and scope of food regulation in this country have grown far beyond anything seen before. The costs, impact, and many unintended negative consequences call out for both concern and reevaluation of our regulatory priorities when it comes to food.

Other topics in the Globe's excellent food issue include obesity, seeds, food aid, the global food trade, and seafood. Read Linnekin's contribution here. And check out the whole issue--featuring more than a dozen contributors--here.

See Us (and Food Freedom) in Cartoon Form!

We're very excited to share a new cartoon featuring Keep Food Legal Foundation's work, from cartoonists Anne Elizabeth Moore and Sarah Becan, which has been published by Truthout. The feature is titled Food and Freedom.

Ladydrawers & Food Freedom

The excellent cartoon is based on an interview Linnekin gave with Moore earlier this year. Moore and Becan cartoon under the nom de plume The Ladydrawers. The Food and Freedom expose is part of The Ladydrawers' ongoing "Growing Season" expose, which explores America's food policy.

Watch Our Baylen Linnekin's Appearance on MSNBC

Earlier this week Keep Food Legal Foundation executive director Baylen Linnekin appeared on MSNBC's The Docket, with host Seema Iyer, to discuss the Supreme Court's recent ruling in Horne v. USDA, a key food freedom case. Host Iyer introduced Linnekin to viewers as “an expert in the law of food."

Horne v. USDA centered on a post-WWII USDA program that forced those who grow and sell raisins to turn over part of their crop to the agency. The Supreme Court struck the program down, holding that the federal Constitution protects Americans against uncompensated government takings of food and other personal property.

"This case is a tremendous victory for food freedom," Linnekin told MSNBC viewers. "Full stop."

As you may recall, Linnekin and Keep Food Legal Foundation submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of the plaintiff Horne family. You can read our the brief here. Watch Linnekin's MSNBC appearance here

'The Economist' Quotes Us on Texas Lemonade-Stand Crackdown

A very good article in last week's issue of The Economist focused on an outrageous crackdown on two Texas girls selling lemonade in order to make enough money to buy their dad a Father's Day gift. We're quoted in the article:

Resistance to loosening the rules largely comes from health officials, who worry about the risks of unlicensed kitchens. But cottage-food laws have mushroomed in recent years without any boom in [food-safety issues], says Baylen Linnekin of Keep Food Legal [Foundation]. Advocates argue that raising sales caps and reducing red tape would not only help to satisfy a growing demand for all things artisan, but also encourage more small-scale entrepreneurs.

The article also discusses the girls' plight in the context of the state's cottage food law, which debuted in September 2013.

Cottage food laws are state laws that permit people to sell some foods designated (awkwardly) as "non-potentially hazardous" that are prepared in home kitchens. Those foods include some pies, spices, and candies.

In a Reason column on the new Texas law, Linnekin cautioned in 2013 that the state's law was a good first step, but that the proof would be in the non-potentially hazardous pudding

"Texas's deregulatory climate is great for small food businesses and their customers. The state legislature has shown that it can strike down or revise bad laws and pass good ones. Let's hope that trend continues."

Clearly, as the lemonade case highlights, Texas--along with many other states--still has far to go.

To read some of Linnekin's other columns on cottage food laws around the country, see here, here, and here.

Supreme Court Ruling Affirms Our Arguments About Food Freedom

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in the case of Horne v. USDA, which centers on a USDA program that forces those who grow and sell raisins to turn over part of their crop to the agency, that the federal Constitution protects Americans against uncompensated government takings of food. The ruling means that the USDA program is unconstitutional. This tremendous victory for food freedom is likely to have wide-ranging implications for federal and state programs that take crops and foods from individuals and businesses.


The historical arguments that Chief Justice John Roberts made in his decision today echo many of those Keep Food Legal Foundation made in an amicus curiae brief we filed in Horne v. USDA. In particular, Chief Justice Roberts discussion of the food-related origins of the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause reflects many of the arguments we alone (among more than a dozen fellow amici) made on the subject.


“Our brief elucidates--likely for the first time in Supreme Court history--the essential food-related origins of the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause, which is the central issue in the case,” we described after filing the brief this spring. “Our brief may also be the first ever to discuss the term ‘food freedom’ before the Supreme Court.


"Our brief describes how a person's rights in food as property go back to Magna Carta, and notes that in 1641 Massachusetts established the first protection against uncompensated takings (specifically, of cattle and other personal property). In the years prior to and during the American Revolution, we detail, the British increasingly violated the colonists’ personal property rights in food. Founding Father James Madison drafted the Takings Clause in order to protect the property rights of Americans by preventing the government from engaging in any such future abuses, we argue. The essential food-related origins of the Takings Clause we reveal in our brief, we conclude, suggest that courts should interpret the Takings Clause most broadly in cases where--as in this case--the government takes personal property, particularly food.”


The Supreme Court did just that today.


“We commend the Supreme Court for its important decision today in the Horne case,” said Keep Food Legal Foundation executive director Baylen Linnekin, who authored our amicus brief. “We are very optimistic that this decision reflects the growing embrace of food freedom by courts, lawmakers, and all Americans.”